Issue: Issue Winter 2002
Where is Hollywood
When much of the world thinks of the United States, they think of Hollywood because of the entertainment industry. And rightfully so. There is not a single product, whether it is television, movies or music, that has given a place such a widely recognized name. Even though there are other places where they create entertainment like we do here, this is the place where it started, the place where the most recognizable people are at work and the place where people come to attain the status of movie star. Of course, many people have their own ideas about where you can find what makes people flock to Hollywood. If you take a walk there and ask a few people what they think, the answers might surprise you.
Dave Elkouby, owner of the celebrity collectibles shop Starworld on Hollywood Boulevard, says that Hollywood is the place where people come to become famous and to realize their dreams of stardom, “When you come to Hollywood, you think of movie stars, personalities and celebrities. It’s the place to come see the stars.”
An aspiring actor and filmmaker from Orlando, Florida, Jay Bogdanowitsch, had this to say, “When I got here I looked at all the old buildings and was seeing all the sites of old Hollywood. I thought of what it must have been like. I think of the glamour. I think of people overcoming the odds and being victorious.”
Visiting from Oregon with his family, Nolan Campbell acknowledged that he felt that Hollywood was pretty much where the Hollywood sign is. When asked about whether or not Hollywood includes the film and television studios, his son Curtis commented, “I would feel like I was in Hollywood at a television taping or on a movie set. Hollywood is where they have a lot of movie stars and if they were taping a show, there would be movie stars.” His wife Carmel declared, “I think of it as not just the buildings, but the people that were here. It’s the whole atmosphere.” Nolan smiled and said agreeably, “That’s true.”
Many people come for the experience of just being here where so many world famous icons have made indelible marks. Naoki Yamaguchi, visiting from Shiga Prefecture near Kyoto, Japan, came to see movie stars and hand prints. “To feel the atmosphere in Hollywood,” he said warmly.
“Probably where you see a movie premiere is also how you define Hollywood. It’s when you see all the celebrities walking up the red carpet and all the paparazzi are snapping photos,” said Dena Morehouse who works as a Marilyn Monroe look-alike in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. “Also another thing that makes it feel like it’s Hollywood is when they are shooting movies.”
She’s not the only one who felt that way. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Ryan Hughes, visiting from San Diego for the weekend, said, “When we came back from WESTPAC (Western Pacific tour of duty), we had a film crew come on the ship and asked us what’s sea life like and what’s it like when you’re over there in the (Persian) Gulf. That’s got a Hollywood feel to it.” When asked what was the first thing that made him realize he was in Hollywood this weekend, he said, “The lights on the El Capitan Theater. Just the whole luxurious look to everything. A lot of people walking around. That’s what I think of Hollywood. A great tourist spot.” The people who work behind the camera have yet another way of looking at where Hollywood is. “I think Hollywood, and not to sound trite, is possibly a state of mind. Any place that kind of puts you in a state of illusion or mystery or mystique is associated with Hollywood because of the fact that it is the world’s motion picture capital and as far as making what we call movie magic. I think that makes it a mystical place and I think that anywhere can be Hollywood if you consider it as a state of mind,” said Allen Reid, film production manager. “Anything attached to the motion picture industry, no matter if they shoot it in New York or Hong Kong, is associated with the name Hollywood. When people hear the name, I believe the average person automatically thinks of movie stars and motion pictures and the entertainment industry as a whole. I think wherever you’re at, whenever you’re on a distant film location, you are always in that Hollywood state of mind.”
Just as films are an educator and the source of mystery and sometimes misinformation, Hollywood is the reason why people around the world can talk knowingly about children like Shirley Temple, places such as Casablanca, the comedy of Bugs Bunny, the heroics of Agent 007 and the talent of Steven Spielberg.
It is a place where the figurative battle between good and evil is created on paper, acted out on a wooden sound stage, bent as light through glass and shown on a silver screen and fought with words and deeds and gold. It is a place where stories show us that imagination has power, action has genius and courage inspires. A place where fantasies are made real and footprints have magic. It is a place where miracles happen and dreams come true with power, luck and humanity.
Hollywood is more than city limits, more than a sign and more than a dateline. It is the flame to the moth for filmmakers and those who love film and it is the nexus between anonymity and stardom. It is a physical and non-physical place where people come from all around the world to experience, while many stay here to find work or just to live, knowing that there is no place like Hollywood. H
About the author
In addition to working hard at getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a writer/director/filmmaker, Joseph Dowdy is a freelance photojournalist and was a Desert Storm Marine combat correspondent.
Photos by Allen Reid except photo of Jay Bogdanowitsch